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Old 07-15-2013, 09:49 PM   #2086
DenverVal
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I have mixed feelings about Malta. We arrived on a very quiet Sunday, and did DCL's market and blue grotto tour, adults-only departure, which was quite disappointing, and dampened my enthusiasm for the island. I hated the market; it had all the atmosphere of a flea market with a mix of used junk, cheap souvenirs and a variety of foods, and there was either too much time here, or not enough time to escape and do something else. The boats at the grotto were advertised to hold four to six people, but they were stuffing in 9 to a boat (at least our boat) and the folks in the middle really couldn't see much. We only caught a brief glimpse of the wonderful blue color the caves are renowned for in the last cave as the guide whisked us in and out. I had just enough time for one blurry photo. Our tour guide was a bit scatterbrained and her commentary really didn't hold my interest. My favorite part of the tour was when we escaped from the bus at the top of the hill and explored Valletta on our own. We found a shop which had both glass and obviously handmade hairpin lace and I happily shopped for souvenirs. It was very hot and dry, and the water here tasted icky - bring your own from the ship or buy bottled. We wandered onto a movie set as we went from the lower gardens to the upper gardens. It will be called "The Cut" and is set during WWI. They had reverted the old buildings into an older era, and cedar mulch was strewn all over the street. We saw a pair of donkeys and a cart, extras in period costumes, and a WWI vet or two talking on their cell phones in the shade of a building. So that was an unexpected, serendipitous surprise Taking the elevator back down to the ship is free. Taking it up to the town costs a euro, I think. Should I ever return to Malta, I will opt to explore the history. I thought the view as we entered the harbor was breathtaking.
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:19 AM   #2087
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Val, I agree about Malta. It was way too hot for me to enjoy anything about it. Our tour wasn't much better. The only good thing is we had originally booked one that was all day and switched to a shorter one. At the "end" of the tour we ended up with about two hours of free time. We could tour, shop, etc on our own and then take the bus back to the ship or we could tour, shop, etc and take the lift back to the boat at our convenience. We opted for the latter. We got back to the ship a good hour or so before the tour should have.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:58 PM   #2088
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Dubrovnik, the walls only take kuna so get some (do they take credit? I don't remember).

We used a credit card to buy tickets to walk the wall. The cable car tickets we also purchased with a credit card.
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Old 07-16-2013, 08:52 PM   #2089
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re Malta, AVOID the red HOP on HOP off bus unless you really want to go on a high speed long ride without any commentary and no hint as to where you are, eventually we got off at a glass furnace and later at Mdina, loved Mdina, but hated the bus. Escaped the bus once again to explore the old town and took the free elevator ride down.
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Old 07-16-2013, 10:07 PM   #2090
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Agreed the hoho in Malta is a rip off. The buses may not have AC (in 80+ degree heat) or even make it from point to point. We had an iffy moment with a "clunk" then a stop and the bus driver outside on a cell phone for 5 minutes. I doubt he even thought it would get from point A to point B. STAY AWAY from the hoho with the earth on the logo. (There are 2 different companies that run hoho busses there, I don't know anything about that service only that its 2-3 euro pp more)
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:15 AM   #2091
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We did the Blue Grotto family tour in Malta. While the boat ride was nice, it was much to short, and there were not as many caves as I had hoped, nor did we really ride though them. The fishing market was awful. We had an hour and a half to walk around in the really hot weather and look at a flea market. If I want to see cheap items I can go to a yard sale or dollar tree. We were so glad to be back on the boat at 1pm and enjoy the ship.
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:14 AM   #2092
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That's funny, we were on your HOHO bus, wasn't that weird and right after having to wait for that line because the other bus was being worked on. They are definitely not in good mechanical condition. LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by n8tivecaligirl View Post
Agreed the hoho in Malta is a rip off. The buses may not have AC (in 80+ degree heat) or even make it from point to point. We had an iffy moment with a "clunk" then a stop and the bus driver outside on a cell phone for 5 minutes. I doubt he even thought it would get from point A to point B. STAY AWAY from the hoho with the earth on the logo. (There are 2 different companies that run hoho busses there, I don't know anything about that service only that its 2-3 euro pp more)
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:24 PM   #2093
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We got off the ship in Malta around 10:00 and saw a big queue of people by the HOHO buses and I wondered why because it seemed odd there would be so many people at that time of day - and there were three buses there but it didn't seem like anyone was loading.

When we did our tour the first day we were in Malta, we went to the fishing village for a quick stop - we were there maybe 20 minutes in all including time to use the facilities. That was one day I got to use my travel TP that I had been carrying around because they were out when I went in. There were DCL buses leaving and arriving from there, so we were glad to not be in the mix and commented on how nice it was to determine how much or little time we spent at different sights.
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Old 07-17-2013, 05:30 PM   #2094
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We arranged for a private tour of Malta, and drove around the whole island. We loved Mdina, visited The co-cathedral, walked around, and enjoyed the views. It was hot, though.
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Old 07-19-2013, 09:43 AM   #2095
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdnxpat View Post
Hello everyone,
I'm madly packing for the July 25th sailing of "your cruise" and I wondered if you had any tips for those of us set to depart. Cptjackandcrew gave a great tidbit about Malta and that got me wondering if anyone else has any suggestions. It would help those of us preparing and would also give you a chance to re-live your amazing experiences. Win-win!
I would also like to say that I may consider naming my next born after the first person who was to post some navigators from this sailing.....
TIA
We did DCL tours in all ports except Malta. We liked the reassurance of the ship waiting if the bus broke down. We looked at the excursion list and our bucket list of places we wanted to see and made choices. We knew we could never see everything so that made it easier to accept what we did see. Like a smorgasbord--we cannot eat everything.


VILLE FRANCHE - bus tour with WALKING to Nice and Monaco - we added two countries to our list!


LA SPEZIA - bus tour with WALKING to Florence and Pisa - saw the Leaning Tower and an AMAZING CATHEDRAL we did not even realize was right beside it. Liked the cathedral better than the tower.


ROME - bus ride and then WALKING to St. Peter's Square, WALKING around the local area, heard the Pope's Sunday noon blessing, saw Vatican Museum and SISTINE CHAPEL (bucket list item).


NAPLES - BUS TOUR OF AMALFI COAST and then to POMPEII - guide was a hoot! views were tremendous! most comfortable bus of the whole vacation as there WAS ENOUGH LEG ROOM!


VENICE DAY 1 - Secret Venice WALK - guide challenged us to count the steps. I wrote down numbers as we went along and added them up later. Those bridges--you know the cute ones that arch over the canals?--they have STAIRS! and those lovely buildings with amazing art--they do not have elevators or escalators! -- We went up and down 633 stairs on that walk but saw a lot!

VENICE DAY 2 - boat tour to Murano for glass blowing, San Georgio to see a cathedral, to a gondola ride (much more wobbly than I expected, they put 6 of us in the gondola (we did not know each other), seats were uncomfortable and the gondolier only spoke to tell DH and the other gentleman not to move around when they tried to take pictures. We took the local vaporetto back toward the ship so we could get pictures along the grand canal. (More bucket list items checked off here)


DUBROVNIK - bus to Old City, WALKING tour, folk dancing program in a lightly air conditioned room so we did cool down but it was not a shock to go back outside, free time, traded Euro coins for a Kuna coin (bucket list as I collect coins), bus back to the ship.


MALTA - no DCL tour - WALKED to BARRAKKA LIFT (which the ships' staff and paperwork SHOULD have told us about as it is hard to find and only one Euro to go up), We did not know where we were going so suggest you sight it from Deck 10 before leaving the ship so you know which way to walk.
http://www.visitmalta.com/en/upperbarrakkalift
(history -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwVDzNnXm8g#at=53 )

We walked around the city, stood in St John's Co-Cathedral for part of Mass, walked to Malta Experience - another lightly airconditioned room so we did cool down but it was not a big shock to go back outside. Good movie for a fast history of the Island and the Knights.
http://www.themaltaexperience.com/

Then we walked to meet friends for our Casa Rocca Piccola tour. Looks like the second Venice cruise will be in Malta on a Monday so you can book Casa Rocca Piccola as a DCL excursion. We were there on a Sunday when they are closed so one AMAZING DISer CALLED them and arranged a private tour. It is RIGHT DOWNTOWN but looks so plain on the outside you could walk by it if you did not have a map or the address. Fascinating place.
http://s3-ec.buzzfed.com/static/enha...3389716-20.jpg

We wanted to get lunch at a café but were disconcerted by the pigeons and flies so we walked back to the Barrakka Gardens, took the lift down -- free -- and WALKED back to the ship. We got lunch we had already paid for on the MAGIC.


WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY is the same as WHAT DO I WISH I HAD PACKED -- Knee high support sox. I rarely have trouble with swollen ankles but I did on this cruise. I have now put a pair in the suitcase so I will not leave home without them.

Have a great cruise!
Jan

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Last edited by JLSE50; 07-19-2013 at 09:52 AM. Reason: editing
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Old 07-19-2013, 06:35 PM   #2096
Sunny San Diego
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Did anyone on the June 27th cruise do the "Grand Canal by dragon boat" tour? It's pretty expensive so we were wondering if anyone had any feedback on that particular excursion.
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Old 07-19-2013, 08:29 PM   #2097
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Did anyone on the June 27th cruise do the "Grand Canal by dragon boat" tour? It's pretty expensive so we were wondering if anyone had any feedback on that particular excursion.
I don't remember anyone mentioning it in their planning.
You all will have a wonderful time.
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Old 07-20-2013, 02:07 PM   #2098
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdnxpat View Post
Hello everyone,
I'm madly packing for the July 25th sailing of "your cruise" and I wondered if you had any tips for those of us set to depart. Cptjackandcrew gave a great tidbit about Malta and that got me wondering if anyone else has any suggestions. It would help those of us preparing and would also give you a chance to re-live your amazing experiences. Win-win!
I would also like to say that I may consider naming my next born after the first person who was to post some navigators from this sailing.....
TIA
The DCL jeep safari tour in Malta is fantastic. It is a great way to see the island. They brought 14 jeeps right to the pier so we didn't have to take a bus or transfer to them. Our jeep was just DH, DD and myself. We saw Popeye Village, the red castle which had great views of Comino and Gozo, spent an hour swimming at the Golden Sands beach, snapped great pictures at the Blue Grotto and the Dingli Cliffs. It was hot, hot, hot but the swim stop was nicely placed. We liked Malta so much that we would actually consider going back for a longer stay. The Radisson at Golden Sands was beautiful. I could easily stay there for a week or so.

Most of the smaller shops in Dubrovnik do not take Euros or credit cards. We had to walk away from 3 of them before we found a shop that would take either. Definitely get some kuna for Dubrovnik.

I did 12 loads of laundry onboard the ship. If you are planning to do laundry, the best times to visit the laundrette are EARLY in the morning. I was in there most days between 3:30 and 4:30. It's the only way you will ever get anywhere near the machines. Otherwise, plan on a 90 minute to 2 hour wait. Not exactly the way I planned to spend my vacation but it was better than overweight/excess bag fees.
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Old 07-20-2013, 02:38 PM   #2099
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I must have really lucked out with the laundry facilities, because I walked up to an empty washer and dryer each time. It can happen.
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Old 07-20-2013, 05:01 PM   #2100
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I must have really lucked out with the laundry facilities, because I walked up to an empty washer and dryer each time. It can happen.
Like you, we had good laundry luck. We never did it on a first sea day, though, because then it was jammed up. We typically did ours after we got back on a port day, especially if we were a little early back.
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